Friday, February 19, 2016

Taking God's Word To The Nations

 
    It has been seven months that we have been back in the States, and it has been a season of challenge and growth, which is never easy. We are adjusting to a new life in our old country, introducing our kids back to their passport country, while at the same time managing a busy work schedule and a home with stuff thrown everywhere… and a storage unit worth of stuff that we are still trying to go through. In it all, we find that our hearts are so much different than when we left this country a couple years back. We have found that God has been chipping away at our hearts, teaching us, shaping us, and preparing us for the next task He is calling us to.
        It was our passion for cross-cultural work that brought our family together. The first date that Crystal and I had was to reminisce about the times we had recently spent traveling abroad. It was exciting to find someone who didn’t think that working outside of our country was such a bad idea. And it wasn’t long into our relationship that we had spent time dreaming together about what work we might get ourselves involved in someday, and where in the world that work would take us.
        To be honest, China was not that plan. We had our own ideas about what we wanted to do, and China was not even a thought that had crossed our minds. But God has a greater plan, and in our submission to that, He has poured out His blessing on our lives. That is by no means to say that life has been easy and full of pleasure. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It has been a challenge to say the least. Yet in the midst of it, God has given us the opportunity to learn about His heart, to grow in our love for each other, and to lay down our own desires for the Kingdom. And for that we are grateful.
        We believe that God has work for all of us to do, as the scriptures tell us that the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. As Crystal and I were talking a couple months ago, we were trying to figure out how God has gifted us, that we might be able to use that to serve others. And to be honest, we couldn’t figure out what God had gifted us with. We couldn’t think of anything that we were uniquely good at that would benefit God’s kingdom. Certainly we are okay at many things, and good at others. But we believe God gives each believer at least one gift that they are to us to advance the work that God is doing. After some time, Crystal felt God saying that our gift is that we will go. We are willing to leave behind our stuff and our land, and just go. I believe we knew this in our hearts already, but never so much considered it to be our “gift”. But with so much work to be done to finish bringing the Gospel of Christ to the world, we are confident that God has burdened our hearts for taking His gospel to the world; to places that it hasn’t yet been.
        As of today, there are more than 1800 languages that do not have a bible. Most of the people who speak these languages are not able to truly hear the scriptures that God has spoken to the world about the love He has for us all. We believe this to be foundational work that Christ has commissioned his followers to carry out nearly 2000 years ago, and it is a work not yet complete. Matthew 24:14, Jesus says:

                      And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole
                     world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

        In response to this, we have felt the call to join in the effort of bible translation, in the hope that every person on earth, from every tribe, every nation, and every tongue will have access to God’s word in a language they understand.  We believe that Revelation 7 will be a beautiful scene, but that there is much to be done before this day will come.
        With that, we come to you. This task is not a small one, and will likely involve a decade or more of our lives. We simply want to ask that you would join us in prayer over this decision. That you would ask God to help reveal His will for our family, and that His voice would be clear in our hearts.  That we would be placed where we could best be used to glorify God's name.

        If you would like to be a part of this next chapter in our lives, make sure to send us your contact information on the right side of the screen so we can keep you up to date in the coming weeks and months.  And if you are willing to commit to support us through prayer, please let us know that in the message section.  We simply cannot do this on our own strength.  It takes many people in many roles to accomplish such a task, and your prayers are no small part!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Walk By Faith


Tears are streaming from my face as I listen to the song, Walk By Faith by Jeremy Camp.  Deep down inside I feel so scared and nervous not knowing exactly what lies ahead for our family.  Like the song said, I am walking on this broken path and I can’t see what lies ahead, but I am going to walk by faith because I know that my God is faithful.  Time and time again He has provided and he will provide again.  It is painful surrendering and letting go of the things that I want to worry about.  I mean being a mom means worrying about our kids right?  At least I feel that way.  I feel like I have to worry about where they will lay their head at night and what they will eat in the morning.  I have to worry about them having clothes to wear and a place to go and run and explore.  I have to worry about the kind of education they will receive.  I have to worry about all of these things to be a good mom, right?  And I want to know the answer to all of these things so desperately.  I feel horrible because I don’t have any of this for my kids.  I don’t have a place to call home.  I don’t have bed for my girls when we return to the United States.  I am giving away clothes that don’t fit in luggage, and we don’t have a job to provide food, education, health care, and all of that.  How horrible do I feel because I don’t have any of that for my girls.  According to this world, I have to worry about those things.  I have to take care of these little girls and give them the best life possible.  How irresponsible am I not to have all of that figured out right now and to have a plan for them, right?  At least that is what I feel this world tells me.  That is what I feel like is screaming inside of me and it hurts.  It hurts so bad to not have the answers.  Then a still, small voice talks to me and tells me, “you aren’t supposed to have it all figured out.  You don’t have to worry my child.  I love you and will take care of you and the girls that I bestowed to you.”  Oh God, thank you, thank you for your unending love.  Thank you for providing and working on the road that lies ahead for our family.  Even though we can’t see it, I know you are taking care of what lies ahead Lord.  "For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” Matthew 6:26-27


Walk By Faith
  • Would I believe you when you say 
    Your hand will guide my every way 
    Will I receive the words You say 
    Every moment of every day 

    Well I will walk by faith 
    Even when I cannot see 
    Well because this broken road 
    Prepares Your will for me 

    Help me to win my endless fears 
    You've been so faithful for all my years 
    With the one breath You make me new
    Your grace covers all I do 

    yeah, yeah , yeah, yeah, ya 

    Well I'm broken- but I still see Your face 
    Well You've spoken- pouring Your words of grace 

    Well hallelujah, hallelu 
    (I will walk by faith) 
    Well hallelujah, hallelu 
    (I will walk by faith) 

    I will walk, I will walk, I will walk by faith 
    I will, I will, I will walk by faith

Youtube music video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgWOcYpHm0o




Monday, May 11, 2015

Letting Go



Letting go of things is so hard for me . . . It doesn't matter if it is letting go of a home, car, a friend, a city, or my kids toys, it is hard for me to let go of things.  It is hard because I want to somehow attach myself to those things or people or locations.   I find comfort in those things and the memories that they bring.  I even sit here now, crying because I sold some of Becca's toys this weekend.  It is so silly because she doesn't even care, but I cry as I reflect on the memories those things bring and find myself grasping to hold onto them.   

This picture reminds me of how I feel. 
I need to let go because even though I can't see it,
the Lord has something even better to give me.



"Letting go of the familiar is tough.  Changing careers or colleges or moving to a new city can take an emotional toll on us.  It's even more difficult to leave behind old habits, attitudes and behaviors.  It is difficult to leave the familiar behind, even when God himself is saying, "It's time to move on."   ~Promises for life~


Well, the time has flown by so quickly.  Almost 18 months have come and gone since we have been here in China.  A little over a year ago we had just finished remodeling our home, putting it up for sell, packing up or selling everything, and moving to China.  We didn’t know exactly why we were going or what to expect, but we knew we were following after the calling.  We knew Wayne would be teaching science and that we were committed for 18 months, but other than that, we didn’t know what to expect.  We didn't know how much our lives would change and grow in more ways than one.  

I would be lying if I said that I wanted to come to China.  I honestly felt that part of me had to be dragged here.  It wasn't until about two months into our stay that I finally was ready to accept that this is where the Lord wanted us to be.  I can't say that I have enjoyed every minute of being here, but I can say, that it was were we were suppose to be.   Even though now the Lord is now saying again, "It's time to move on,"  I again feel that part of me has to be dragged on to the next place.  I wish I didn't feel that way.  I wish I could just say, "okay God" and accept what he tells me.  Instead, I still want to fight it and question his decision and even try to change his mind at times.  I am just like my daughters when they question my decisions and don't trust me.  Becca questions my decisions so much lately that she even has a verse to memorize, "Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others." Proverbs 12:15.  I have been quoting it to her and yet I am the one that needs to say it and need to listen to and trust in the Lord. 




"We all struggle with the difficulties of letting go of the old in order to grasp the new.  Take heart.  God understands that letting go of the familiar is hard.  Yet he has called us to move on to new life in Jesus Christ by letting go of our old worldly lives, our old habits, our old dreams to boldly move forward without looking back.  When you feel God's call to move, allow him to guide you.  He will give you the grace to do whatever he has asked."                                   ~Promises For Life~


I am so thankful that even though our time here in China has come to an end, even though we are heading back to California in a month, even though we don't have a job lined up, a home, a car big enough to fit us all, the Lord is in control and will take care of us.  I don't know what lies ahead and I can now find comfort in that because I can be like a kid again.  I can sit along for the ride in the car without a care in the world because my father is steering the car and even though I don't know quite where we are going or how long it will take to get there, I know that I am safe under his control and guidance and he will get me where I need to go. 



Please keep our family in prayers during this next huge transition for our family.  Please also take a look at the info below to understand a little of what our family is going through as well as how to help receive us back home . . . Thank you for your love and support!

**Why Expats Hate June  http://www.thecultureblend.com/?p=11

**Helping Expats Come Home http://www.thecultureblend.com/?s=receiving+well

 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Her Story


Dear Leah,

After reading your adoption file, I found out that you had a loving family that raised you for the first 7 years of your life.  How comforting it was for me to know that you were loved and cared for during the beginning years of your life, such a critical time for children.  I also read in the file that they wanted to adopt you, but were not able to due to not meeting the age requirements, lack of money, and illness.  I started wondering, when exactly was the last time you had seen this family?  Did you know that they wanted to adopt you?  Did you know that they couldn’t have children of their own and loved you as if you had been birthed to them?  Did you know that you were loved, wanted, and desired by this family? Despite that fact that circumstances made the family feel the pressure to give you up, they wanted to keep you forever. 

My heart went out for you Leah and for your Chinese parents as well.  I wanted you to be able to see them again and to know that they loved you and hadn’t forgotten you like you told me you were afraid they had.  How could they ever forget you Leah?  My girl, a mother never forgets her child and I was certain she had never forgotten you.  I also couldn’t imagine being in your mother’s position and having to give up the only child that she ever had.  I couldn’t imagine the pain of not being able to have children and then after raising a child for 7 years, having to let go and give the child up.   She desired to have you so badly that she didn’t care that you were not her biological child.  She didn’t care that she found out you had brittle bone disease when you were a year old.  She just desired to have you.  You were desired and wanted, not rejected.

My heart longed for you to know this and for you to have peace and comfort fill the places in your heart where you have felt rejected.  I also longed to give your Chinese mother peace in knowing that you were being adopted and would be loved and cared for forever.  She could let go of any feelings of guilt and could have peace in knowing you were safe.  I didn’t know how, but I wanted to try and find a way to track down these parents for you.  I knew this may be the only time we would ever be in your home province.    

After visiting with you at Agape, I found out that these parents were dear to you and you had fond memories of them.  I also found out that through some circumstances, they had come to meet Keith, the director of the Agape foster home, and you ended up staying there with your parents for a period of time while they tried to help you get the medical care that you needed.  It was crazy that after all of that, you ended back up Agape.  It is crazy because your home province and Agape are hours and hours apart.  It is amazing how the Lord works all things together for His glory. 

Well, I started asking around to see if we could get the contact information of your parents.  I asked the previous director at Agape, but she said they had no contact information anymore.  I thought for sure the orphanage would have the information since your parents took you to them, I just didn’t know if they would be willing to give it to me.  Well now that we are here finally picking you up, I got the opportunity to search out again.  Just yesterday, I met one of the workers from the orphanage.  I asked her about getting in contact with your first family, the one that raised you, and also inquired about the note your birth mother left on you with your birthdate.  She said that she didn’t have either.  Your parents took you to the police station first, and then after a period of time, you were taken to the orphanage.  Because of that, no information was given to them.  It appeared that there was no way to track your parents down now. 

Although I was not able to track down your Chinese parents, I wanted to be able to learn about a piece of your past through going to the place where you were abandoned.  Although I knew it would be hard for all of us to see, I thought it would be good for all of us as well.  After finding out that the place was about an hour and a half a way and that the cost to get there and back would be 800rmb (about $130), I wasn’t sure if it was really worth the trip.  Dad didn’t seem to desire to go and I figured it would be hard for you.  Really, we would be driving an hour and a half to try to find this place, take a picture, and then come right back.  Was it really worth it?  Who knew where this address would lead us to.  Well, I knew this was the only opportunity we would have to ever see this place and figured that we should at least try.  I knew that even a simple picture may not mean a lot now, but would mean a ton later in life for you.  So, we decided to go to the place that was listed in your file, the place that was considered your place of abandonment. 

After explaining to you where we were going, you told us you were feeling a bit nervous.  You were feeling nervous and yet excited because you thought we were telling you that we were going to get to see your Chinese parents.  I felt so bad and we tried explaining to you that we were just going to the address that was listed and most likely wouldn’t see them because we didn’t have any contact information for them.  You were still very nervous.  As we got closer and closer to the location, you started recognizing the place.  Things looked familiar and you pointed out several places that you knew.  We all got a little excited as we realized that this wasn’t just the address you were left at, it was near where you were raised. 

After a wrong turn or two, asking several people where to go, we finally found the location, an apartment building.  In fact, you were the one the recognized it by sight as we drove past it and had to turn around.  After all of these years, you remembered how your old home looked and knew where to go.  Now it became real to all of us, now we may actually have the opportunity to meet your family. 
 

Once we got to the apartment, we shortly discovered that no one was home.  I knew it was a long shot that anyone would be home and even that the same family would be living there, but your heart was broken.  You began to cry a little.  Immediately, our sweet translator Amy, and the driver began talking to neighbors and seeing if they could figure out who lived in the apartment and if anyone recognized you.  Sure enough, they found people that recognized you and even a man that worked with your dad.  He told us that they did not live there anymore, but that he could help us track down their contact information from the company that he works for.  Hopefully we could at least get that information so you could call them. 




Since we were all very hungry and knew it would still be a bit of time before they got there, we went to a restaurant across the road and waited for them there.  It was only a matter of time before your Chinese parents showed up at the restaurant.  As they walked into the room, your face lit up and so did theirs.  You were grinning from ear to ear as you hugged them.  After all of these years, you finally got to see them again and be in there arms.    

As much as I had longed for this opportunity for you, it was a bit hard and emotional for us as well.  It was hard for us not to be jealous of the way you looked at your Chinese parents.  Seeing the joy and the love in your eyes made it hard not to long for your eyes to be gazing at us in that way instead.  We had just signed the papers saying that you were now our daughter and you signed saying that you wanted us to be your parents as well.  Now only hours later, we were reuniting you with your first parents.  I needed to be reminded, why were we doing this again?  Why were we reconnecting you with them? We almost had the urge to pull you away from everyone and not share you at all.  We wanted to do it as to say to everyone that you were now our daughter.  Ultimately we felt insecure and perhaps afraid.   I heard you exchange words with your mom, telling her how you two had the same eyes, hair, and looked alike.  I knew how desperately you longed to look like someone else, how you wanted to feel like you fit in with another family.  You had commented a number of times how you and I look more alike and Becca and Sara have blue eyes and look like dad.  I immediately felt fear and guilt, wondering if we had made the right decision.  I mean I felt I could have predicted that this would be an issue for a teenage girl and now my fear was becoming reality.  Did we make the right choice? 

Even though we felt this way, we knew that this was something that would forever be special to you and them as well.  Only a few hours of discomfort for us could bring you such joy, peace, and precious memories for the years to come. 

It was such a blessing to see how everything unfolded and to have this opportunity for you to see them. They got to see you and have peace knowing that you will be taken care of.  It also was a blessing for us in that we got the opportunity to tell them thank you for all the years that they spent raising you.  It was such a neat time getting to ask your family questions about you, your past, and your journey.  I also got to ask them about that note that was referenced in your adoption papers, the one that your birth-mom left on you when you were born.  She had written your birthday on the note that she had left on you when she abandoned you.   Sure enough we asked her about it, and she said that she still had it! After all these years she still had this little treasure, the only thing that was left from your birth mom. As much as I had wanted to get it for you as a keepsake, I knew now I couldn’t ask for it.  I couldn’t take away the one thing that she had been holding on to all these years.  The one thing that reminded her of you, her one and only child.   

Overall we had such an amazing adventure finding your parents Leah.  You are so loved dear girl and forever will be by so many people. 

 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Finally Here!

Well after nine long months, she is finally here!  After nine long months of paperwork, nine long months of preparing and anticipating, we finally have our daughter Leah XiaoQing home with us!  What an adventure it has been to get her and it is amazing that a month has already flown by since we brought her home.

Well, so much has happened over the last month.  I feel like I can write of book of things we have gone through with all the changes and adjustments our family has and is still going through.  Like having a newborn baby, each day is fun, exciting, yet exhausting and sometimes feels overwhelming.  Wayne and I are learning how to adjust to parenting an older child, and specifically one who is from another culture and still learning English.  There is so much that I could share, but for now, I will start at the beginning and will try to find time to write more often and bring everyone up to speed. 

It was a long nine months of waiting to bring Leah home, especially for Wayne as he did all the paperwork in preparing to adopt Leah.  In the adoption world people would say that he was the one that was "paper pregnant".  He bent over backwards in getting all the paperwork finalized and processed as quickly as possible.  He wanted to not only make sure that all the paperwork went through before she turned 14 (before she would be considered not adoptable), but also wanted to finish before the Chinese New Year so that our family could spend the two week vacation time bonding with her. He met his goal and we got to go get her on February 9th.  This will forever be her "Gotcha Day," a day just as special to her as her birthday. 

Leah meeting baby Rachel for the 1st time

 
I remember the morning we got Leah.  We were so excited and eager to go pick up her up.  We got ready in our hotel, Wayne didn't eat breakfast he was so excited, and then we drove over to get her and officially make her part of our family.  We had already met her twice and yet we were still so anxious and nervous.  I couldn't imagine how emotional most adoption families are on that day when most of them meet their child for the first time. 
 
 

What an exiting day it was for us, but I wonder exactly what Leah was feeling on that day.  Of course she was happy and told us she was, but there was so much more going on in her eyes that I feel she may not been able to express herself to us accurately.  I wondered if she perhaps felt excited to be adopted by an American family or maybe disappointed that she would have to give up her Chinese citizenship in order to do so.  I wonder if she was relieved that we were there rescuing her from the orphanage that took her out of her foster home for a week before we got there.   Perhaps she was nervous and regretting her decision to be adopted and was longed to be back with her friends at her foster home.  Maybe all of those things were going through her mind, but I felt that her eyes were telling me so much more was going on in her heart.  I felt that she was filled with joy and also fear. But now, in the mist of the moment, she could finally release that fear.   She now could now let go, because she finally had a family to call her own.  Finally she didn't have to worry whether or not that day would ever come, rather or not a family would come for her, we were finally there. 
 


Signing saying that we would love her and take care of her forever

Leah singing saying that she wanted us to be her parents

 
I told Leah that day that we would forever be her parents, forever be her family, that we wouldn't leave her, and would always love her.  Although we have had some rough days and will have rough days in the future, I will forever hold on to those words that brought tears to her eyes that day.  We will forever be her parents and she will forever be our daughter.  We are thankful to the Lord for this gift that he has given to us and promised to us years ago.  We are thankful we have another daughter.  We are thankful that she is finally here!  

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Our Bundle of Joy

Rachel Joy has made her debut into the world!  I am sure most people know that our little " bundle of joy" is here by now, but we are so excited that I thought I would share a little about her birth as well as some pictures.


A huge thank you to Tammi for throwing us such lovely baby and adoption showers
Part of becoming a mom and having a newborn is the "nesting" period of getting the nursery and home ready for the little one.  I was first a bit discouraged as all my baby stuff is packed up in storage back in California.  On top of that, we still don't know how long we will continue living here in China, so we didn't want to go and buy a ton of things either.  Well, I am so thankful that I am surrounded by so many loving people.  I was blessed with baby showers, donations, and used some creativity to make Rachel's little room just right for her.  It was so encouraging to me because I desperately wanted to make a room for her, even if we end up moving back this summer, and the Lord granted me my request.  A huge thank you to everyone who gave gifts, money, and helped support us in her arrival.


After waiting an extra 4 days past her "due date" Rachel Joy McMaster decided to make her grand entrance into the world.  I was blessed with friends around me who immediately took the girls for us, a friend who drove us to the hospital instead of having to take a taxi, a doula who helped tremendously, and a great hospital.  Most importantly, I had such a loving, wonderful husband who supported me and was there every step of the way.  He was such a blessing to me and didn't complain once, even after trying to bite him once during a contraction. 

After only 5 hours of labor and 2 pushes, Rachel came into the world at 22:35 weighing 3400 grams and 50 cm long.  For those of us that are used to American measurements, she came at 10:35pm weighing 7 lb 8 oz. and 19 1/2 inches long.  Even though some people say she is big, she is actually the smallest of the our girls. She looks a lot like Sara did when she was born and has dark brown hair.  We now can tell that she has blue eyes like her sisters but I am told that the color could still change within the next few months.  Only time will tell I guess.  She is a sweet little girl who overall sleeps and eats well and even tolerates her sisters wanting to hold her all of the time. 
  
Rebecca was so excited to meet her baby sister and asks to hold her all of the time.  It is very precious.

Although you clearly can't tell by this picture, Sara actually loves to hold her sister as well and
thinks of her like her little doll. 

Our family of 5

My little gift from above

Precious sleeping baby girl


We are so excited to have our new little addition, Rachel Joy apart of our family now.  We are now a family of 5, but only for another week.  A week from today Wayne, Rachel and I will be flying to another part of China to get the next newest member of our family, Leah XiaoQing!  Thank you to everyone who has kept us in your prayers and has supported our family during this time.  We are so blessed to have so many loving people around us who are blessing us with meal, watching the girls, and helping our family in many ways.  Please continue to keep our family in your prayers during this time and stay tuned in the weeks ahead for pictures of our continuing growing family.   

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Christmas Joy



We just celebrated our first Christmas in China.  Spending Christmas in a different country without the familiar holiday spirit and surroundings made it all rather difficult.  There weren't places to smell and buy fresh Christmas trees or places to go and walk and see houses lit up with Christmas lights.  We all found ourselves getting a bit homesick and longed to be with our family and friends.  We weren't able to fly home for the holidays, but decided to make the most of the holiday and do the next best thing and travel to spend the holiday with one of the newest members of our family, Leah XiaoQing McMaster! 

Most of you don't know, but this was actually our second time getting to meet and spend time with Leah. We got the opportunity to meet her back in October for the first time.  We were in the area and got special permission to visit her.  Usually it is common for people to meet the child they are adopting before an adoption is complete if adopting from the states, but here in China, we technically we were not supposed to meet her until the adoption was completed.  We were so excited when we got the okay to meet her, but didn't feel we were able to share with everyone at that time.  Now that we have jumped through most of the hoops in the adoption process, we can share with you about our addition we had in our family this Christmas this year, our Christmas joy.   



Since we haven't gotten to share the adoption details in awhile, many of you may be wondering about our daughter's new name.  Her given name is XiaoQing, which she still goes by with some people.  We have noticed she goes by it to other Chinese and it will still be apart of her name, just her middle name now.  Since Chinese names can be difficult for foreigners to pronounce, many Chinese have an American name as well.  Although her American name has been "Candy" for years, she decided that she wanted a new name coming into our family.  She wanted a biblical name like our other girls have.  We talked about a few different possibilities, but ultimately she decided on Leah.  A friend actually brought the name more to our minds as she pointed out that although our daughters all have the names of the wives of the patriarchs of the bible - Sara, Rebecca, and Rachel, we were missing one, Leah!  Leah was the oldest sister and Rachel was the younger sister whom both were married to Jacob in the bible.  She liked the idea of being the big sister and completing our family of girls by taking on the name Leah.  The more we learn about Leah in the bible, we find that she constantly experienced God's favor which makes us love the name even more. 

We were all excited to get to see Leah again and spend the holiday break with her getting to know her even more.  Getting across China to see her was the challenging part though.  With the pregnancy being past 35 weeks, it meant that I could not fly.  This left me with the option of taking the long overnight train there.  Originally we had planned to travel by train with our whole family, but decided it may not be so fun to travel that way with Sara, a toddler who likes to move around a lot.  Instead, Wayne decided to fly over with Sara and Becca and I had an adventure together and traveled by train.  Although it was a long train ride, we made the most of it by spending time together, watching movies, reading books, and coloring.  Overall, we had a pretty successful trip. 
We got to spend one week with Leah at her foster home.  It was a really neat to get the opportunity to see the place she has been living at for the last 4-5 years and to be in that world with her.  We got to meet and spend time with her uncle and auntie that take care of her and the other older children there.  We got to meet her teachers, friends, and other people that have been a big part of her life there.  We were even blessed to meet someone who was able to shed some light on Leah’s childhood.  We got to see what she does day in and day out and how a house full of teens in wheel chairs manage to get around and work together to take care of each other.   We were even amazed to see how quickly she can get around with her walker and is even able to walk across a room on her own. 
Most of all, we loved getting to spend time just getting to know Leah even more.  She is a fun loving, sweet girl who has a smile that can melt anyone’s heart.  She loves to read, play games, watch movies, and paint nails.  She loves girly pink stuff and especially loves Hello Kitty and the Disney Princesses.  She is very social and like many girls, loves to talk.  Her ability to speak in English to us amazes us.  Despite being in a Chinese speaking home and being one of the youngest teenagers there, she is one of the ones with the most English language.  This just shows that she is a determined girl who is motivated to learn English.  We also know it comes from one of her passions, reading.  She loves to read in Chinese or English.   We even have been told that she will lock herself in the bathroom just to get away and read. She loves to read so much that we now understand why her books have to be taken away at times.  If not, she may not do anything else.   We know that her love for reading is a blessing though and will help her to pick up English quickly. 
Through an unexpected death during our visit there, we were able to see Leah’s light shine out to others and to see her servant’s heart and desires to take care of those hurting around her.  We were also able to see the boldness and faith that she has in the Lord shine out through this tragedy.  Her faith in the Lord and her confidence she has in knowing that her friend is in a better place with a completely healed body completely amazed and challenged us as well.  We don’t know if we would respond with such faith and have that much peace in the mist of the lose of a dear friend. 
She is a remarkable girl and we are blessed to get to call her our daughter.  Now, it is just a matter of weeks before we get to bring her home. 


Leah playing her flute for everyone


The girls playing and coloring a box together

taking a walk around the neighborhood



Not the best picture, but you can see how tall they each are
Leah getting her Christmas gifts.  The only thing she asked for was an English Bible.
Rebecca and Sara were excited to get their Christmas presents!

Sisters



The McMaster family Christmas photo of 2014.

Please be praying for us and help support us any way that you can to bring Leah home to our family! 





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